Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Fear Not – it’s not just for Christmas


Somewhere I’ve read that there are 365 verses in the Bible that tell us not to fear. Other’s have felt enough curiosity to do some research. One’s a blogging pastor’s wife, who created a printable list less than 365; another is a blogging Christian author, who found more than 365.

I haven’t verified either, but with the help of, I could list all the 62 KJV verses specifically state “Fear not.” That’s enough for me to continue with the theme that beautiful graphic put in my mind.

Fear not. Most of the things we fear are unknown, aren’t they. We anticipate future events and conjure up what can possibly go wrong – or, is it as my children say, I’m the one mother that lived by a personal variation of Murphy’s law:  Anything can go wrong and when it does it will happen at the worst possible moment and circumstances.

Yet – I believe the book that tells me about the God who knows all.

I believe Him when He inspired:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (Jeremiah 29:11 KJV)

He was speaking specifically to Israel, but we know He is omnipotent and knows the plans for us, too. He also inspired:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 KJV)

There is nothing in that verse – or any other – that tells us we won’t have troubles, but it will work for good. Nothing to fear there, because we’ve read the rest of the story and know that the Lamb wins. I read two good book on that very subject – Revelation and “And the Lamb Wins.” Both those books speak of lots of trouble. Yet, we are to fear not.

What kind of troubles may we expect? Read the Bible and see what examples are laid out before us. I suggest beginning in Hebrews 11:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. (Hebrews 11:1-2 KJV)

Read the next couple of chapters and learn about these elders – then look them up in the Old Testament and learn more about their lives. There were rough patches, weren’t there?

How about God’s only begotten son? He’s an example in Hebrews, too:

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 KJV)

He knew, as He sweat great drops as of blood that there would be joy following the coming pain and shame. He knows what is in store for us:

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32 KJV)

Still – for all the good words found in God’s book, I love the ones that not only were spoken to remove fear but to provide promises:

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11 KJV)

Which causes me still to pray in gratefulness:

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:15 KJV)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Does It Matter?

A nice meme, isn’t it? I saw it posted and it sounded good – for a moment. Treat others nicely and all is well. Unfortunately, it doesn’t match what I’ve learned over my lifetime and I have a few questions – along with some biblical background.

First – why doesn’t it matter how many Sundays you sit in church? Doesn’t the Bible tell us:

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25 KJV)

And, didn’t we learn from our Saviour how the example was set:

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. (Luke 4:16 KJV)

Yes – Jesus was accustomed to attending worship services.

Second – it doesn’t matter if you think you are saved? Once again, I turn to my Bible, where it tells me why it was written:

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20:31 KJV)

The most memorized verse is from that same book:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  (John 3:16 KJV)

Two optional outcomes: perish, or everlasting life.  One way (even if it does appear to be exclusive, remember that “whosoever believeth”):

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6 KJV)

Third – God really does see what you do and how you treat people:

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (Matthew 12:36-37 KJV)

There are many verses that outlines God’s requirements beyond John 3:16. One of my favorites is:

Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:7-8 KJV)

My conclusion is similar to Solomon’s, so I’ll use his words:

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13 KJV)

Jesus gave us God’s definition of His commandments:

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40 KJV)

Please take time to read the Bible to confirm that what I’ve included here is correctly quoted and in context. Church attendance is helpful, but not necessary. It will by natural course follow salvation and the desire to love God with all our heart. There is no doubt in my mind that salvation is important and is not determined by how we treat other people, but how we treat them in accordance with God’s command.

Do you see it differently?

Monday, May 8, 2017

Vessels For . . . ?


The King James Version of the Bible was translated from a number of sources, none as old as the Great Isaiah Scroll found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. These scrolls are older than the New Testament, but they do show how carefully the books of the Old Testament were preserved for over two thousand years. We have clay jars and a dry climate to thank for that.

Simple clay vessels. Seems as though there should be a spiritual thought there, right? Maybe from:

But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: (Acts 9:15 KJV)

Here the Lord is speaking to Ananias about Paul. Better than most of us – reminiscent of Samuel – Ananias answered God by saying:

Behold, I am here, Lord. (Acts 9:10b KJV)

A lot of biblical characters as well as people today would not recognize the call, much less respond. Most would be fearful – as Ananias was when he heard what he was supposed to do:

And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, (Acts 9:11 KJV)

Ananias knew Saul’s reputation – for imprisoning and killing followers of Christ. Men, women, children – any person teaching or believing that Jesus was the son of God, Saul had the authority over their lives.

But, to God Saul was a chosen vessel, little better than those that kept scrolls safe for two thousand years. It did take Jesus Christ stopping Saul on the road to Damascus to make that vessel fit for God’s work. That message was given hundreds of years before:

The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. (Jeremiah 18:1-4 KJV)

Ananias may have known that scripture, but we know for certain Paul did when he wrote:

Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? (Romans 9:19-21 KJV)

God created Saul – and recreated him into Paul, a vessel fit to complete the work God had in mind for him.

Why, then are we - marred as we are by life and things of this world – so loath to allow the Potter to take our lives and make “it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make.” Do we really think we can do the job better than He can? More likeable than He would? Just what vessel do we want to be in the Potter’s hand?

Saturday, May 6, 2017


Not displayed in this graphic is the bone structure surrounding the eye. If you are sufficiently interested, click here for information on the seven bones that make of the orbital structure protecting the eye.

Why the anatomy lesson? To help understand why our eyes are important. The Bible tells of the importance:

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23 KJV)

Losing one’s sight can happen in an instant, or over a long period of time. Macular Degeneration can take years for sight to be lost, but an accident takes second.  My son-in-law stepped into a door handle that hit the orbital bone below his eye, shattering the bone. When he got into the house, his first question was, “Is my eye still in?” The trauma was so great he thought he had literally lost his eye. Fortunately, there was no damage to the eyeball and eventually the muscles and bones healed without loss of sight. That quickly, an inch different, and his sight would be gone and at least half of his body would be as the Bible said, “full of darkness.”

However, the Bible speaks figuratively as well as literally and the light here also means:

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12 KJV)

John recognized this early in his gospel:

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:4-5 KJV)

We have all seen examples of those who do not comprehend – those who will not see. The first quote that comes to mind isn’t from the Bible, though it is close to Jeremiah 5:21:
There Are None So Blind As Those Who Will Not See:
• According to the ‘Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings’ this proverb has been traced back to 1546 (John Heywood), and resembles the Biblical verse Jeremiah 5:21 (‘Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not’). In 1738 it was used by Jonathan Swift in his ‘Polite Conversation’ and is first attested in the United States in the 1713 ‘Works of Thomas Chalkley’. The full saying is: ‘There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know’.
There is a reason for many not seeing what they read, not hearing what they’ve been told, nor accepting what they’ve been taught:

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2 Corinthians 4:4 KJV)

How are they blinded and deafened? By things that appear desirable and attainable. And we see those things everywhere we look, don’t we? Our entertainment is filled with images that too often look better to us than what God has to offer because the gratification is instantaneous. “We have what you want – buy it here – on sale!”

Jesus tells us differently:

The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. (Luke 11:34-35 KJV)

People around us see what we say and do – how we live. What is the light that shines from us – God or this world? Who sees it? Everyone in our lives at any given moment. That’s why we need to follow Peter’s advice:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1 Peter 3:15 KJV)